Over the course of this past week and a half, we have seen 11 volunteers from various organisations and backgrounds undergo certified training to enable them to safely use herbicides near water. The fantastic news is that they all passed the training, which brings us to 26 volunteers now trained and able to use herbicides near water to control invasive non-native plant species.
This greatly increases the capacity of the BEACON project as there is only one Project Officer employed as part of the project, so if an area is being monitored and treated by volunteers, the Project Officer can move on and work downstream elsewhere. This has worked brilliantly over the past years, and we hope with 11 newly trained volunteers this way of working can continue.
This season our efforts will be focused on controlling Giant Hogweed at Dunham, Lymm and Heatley where is has been allowed to grow unchecked for many years. You can find out more about Giant Hogweed and the affects it has on people and wildlife here.
Thank you to the Environment Agency for funding this brilliant opportunity for our volunteers, for rangers at Macclesfield Riverside Park for giving up their Visitor Centre for over a week, and of course thanks must go to the volunteers for dedicating their time to do this course, and in the future to controlling invasive non-native species.
The Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is the invasive non-native species to look out for at the moment. It arrived in Britain, the first sighting being in Tetbury, last autumn, and at that time the hornets nests found in that area were successfully destroyed, and it is hoped that the population found last year has been eradicated. However, this does not mean the war is over, even though that small battle was won. Experts from the National Bee Unit believe that it is almost inevitable that there will be another invasion of Asian Hornets this year, and are asking the public to be vigilant.
The Asian Hornet originates from the area bordered by Northern India and China, and was first discovered in France in 2005, thought to have been transported in pottery that was imported from China. The climate in the hornets native range is similar to that in Southern Europe, and may be the reason why is has spread rapidly.
European Hornet on the left, Asian Hornet on the right.
The Asian Hornet can potentially be a threat to people if they sting, but whilst the stings are painful, the hornets are not considered aggressive to people. They main threat these invasive insects pose is to bees. They predate social wasps and honeybees, and have been observed hovering over the entrance to bee hives waiting to charge and catch honeybees laden with pollen and nectar. They eat the majority of the honeybee, and pulp the rest for larval food in the hornets own nest. This is not good news for the honeybee, which is already under threat due to habitat loss and increase in intensive agricultural practices. Asian Hornets also consume a wide variety of spiders and other insect prey.
You can download a fact sheet which will enable you to identify the Asian Hornet here.
Advice for Beekeepers regarding this species can be found on BeeBase.
If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet please report your sighting here.
At the start of August BEACON had a stand at Dig the City in Manchester. Dig the City in Manchester is an annual gardening festival where visitors can view show gardens, attend talks and workshops and children can make mud pies and plant seeds. The event was really well attended and everyone enjoyed themselves.
BEACON had a stand at the event to spread the word to budding and experienced gardeners alike about the dangers of invasive non-native species, many of which started out as garden ornamental plants. We had displays of garden plants that are known to be invasive, such as Crocosmia spp., Buddleja and Snowberry.
BEACON also had examples of the better-known Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed at the stand to make more people aware of BEACON’s main work. Even though the weather was poor, the city bees were still able to find the nectar in the Himlayan balsam on display.
Children made alien masks and played alien invader games to illustrate the point about invasive species being like aliens that are in the wrong place.
It is hoped that BEACON will be able to attend this event next year to carry on spreading the word…not invasives 🙂
For more information on Dig the City please click here